BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Chitra Sounder’s narrative about a kite being carried away by the wind, delightfully complimented by Kanika Nair’s striking illustrations, make Farmer Falgu Goes Kite Flying quite an engaging read for young minds.
The story is set in rural India, with Falgu, a farmer and his daughter Eila heading to the fair to fly the colorful kites. They are joined by Ahmed Chacha, Pushpa Didi and her parrot en route their journey. The plot is simple, with the raging wind playing antagonist, bringing tears to Eila’s eyes, blowing away her kites. The calm and composed Farmer Falgu comes to her rescue, figuring out a way to fly kites anyway.
Apart from the vibrant depictions capturing smiles, tears and fears alike, it is the attention to small detail that truly captivates the reader. Case in point, the usage of different colors to associate with different characters – orange for Ahmed, pink for Pushpa- facilitates the young reader to associate dialogues effortlessly. The artful formatting of words, be it font type, color or size proves highly successful in conveying sentiments of characters and the physical movement required for a situation.
In Farmer Falgu Goes to the Kumbh Mela, Falgu sets on a journey to visit the Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad with advice from friends and family to witness the sadhu procession, the elephant parade, and to take a dip in the holy river. Falgu, excited to explore all aspects of the Mela finds himself missing out on the very highlights he was there for, while trying to help out people in need. Farmer Falgu is however rewarded for all his good deeds by a series of chance happenings and is able to experience all the moments of the Mela he craved for, concluding his trip with meeting a friend who shares sumptuous Jalebis and Lassi.
Understated yet well-defined, Farmer Falgu’s heart of gold and sweet temper always come shining through, throughout the series. The onomatopoeic sounds, Chalang, Chalang for his dip in the river, Clang-Clang for procession of Sadhus, DHADAM! for a fall, prove to be powerful enhancements to Soundar and Naik’s warm and vivid pallet.
Soundar and Naik’s captivating chronicles and vivacious portrayals transport the reader to intended destinations rather seamlessly. The ultimate message that kindness and patience find their own rewards is subtle yet substantial. Concluding with descriptions about the said festivals, be it Kites or the Kumbh Mela, adds value to the reader. I do however believe that these descriptions would have enhanced the reading experience if they had been incorporated into the plot.
Karadi Tales is an award-winning independent children’s book publisher from Chennai, India. Their books have made it to the New York Public Library’s lists of Best Children’s books and been translated into several languages worldwide. Founded in 1996 by a group of writers, musicians and educators who returned to India from the USA, with the goal to create a space for Indian culture in mainstream children’s literature, these picture books have been received well with positive reviews from the likes of San Francisco Book Review, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Brain Pickings.
Karadi Tales are distributed in North America through the Ingram Content Group, apart from being available on Amazon and in bookstores. You may visit www.karaditales.com for details.